Rulers are handy little tools to keep around the house. But rulers have their limits, especially when it comes to measuring the intangible. For example, a ruler just won’t cut it when it comes to measuring God’s grace.
Have you ever tried to measure God’s grace? Probably not with a ruler, but maybe you’ve felt that God’s grace couldn’t possibly be extended to you because of a sin you’ve committed over and over again. Or perhaps you think that your sin is too grievous to be forgiven by God. If you’re like me, my sin feels bigger than God’s grace.
End of the world syndrome
My children, like all kids, didn’t obey all the time. Whether it was hitting a sibling for the second time in five minutes or lying about their finished homework, I sometimes lose my temper with them.
On one particular day when I was angry, my oldest son said, “Mom, it feels like it’s the end of the world when we do something wrong!” This was a sad, but accurate picture of my overreaction to their sin. I was not treating them the way that God treats me, with grace.
God’s Grace defined
In his book,Transforming Grace, well-known Christian author Jerry Bridges says, “Grace is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him.”
My anger at my kids is a symptom. It reveals a desire I had that wasn’t being met, probably wanting a stress free life. In his kindness, God showed me my overreaction to my kids sin revealed my lack of understanding of grace.
Scripture says we were separated from God because of our sin. But Jesus solved the problem of our sin when He sacrificed his life to pay for all our sins. We’re saved, not based on our good efforts, but because of Jesus’ death on a cross. This is grace defined and demonstrated. Simply put-grace is a gift. We didn’t earn it and we don’t deserve it.
I heard a cute story about two little girls playing at the playground. One of the girl’s mom kept asking her if she needed to go to the bathroom, but she refused. After a few minutes, the little girl realized she needed to go, but was too late. As a puddle formed at her feet, her little friend shook her head and said, “ It happens to the best of us.”
Even though we’re Christians, we still sin. It happens to the best of us. Sometimes we yell at our kids, speak unkindly to our spouse or gossip at work. Jesus doesn’t want us to fight sin alone. He walked this earth experiencing every temptation we do, but without sin. When we call out to him, he’ll answer us and help us fight the temptations to sin.
Rely on Others
When I lived overseas, I got the chance to rock climb with friends. We scaled large boulders usually without nets. I have an old photo of one of our outings. In the photo, one climber is being hoisted up one side of a boulder while at the same time, two friends are leaning over from the top of the rock, ready to grab her by the arms and pull her up over the top. The boulder looks like it has human chains draped over it.
God not only promises to help us fight sin, but he gives us Christian friends to hoist us up over the top when we can’t do it alone. When I’m frustrated at my sinful response towards my kids or spouse, my Christian friends gently encourage me, pray for me and more importantly, remind me that God is at work in my life even if I don’t feel it.
Rely on Scripture
God’s word is our greatest weapon against sin and feeling condemned. Scripture not only reminds us who God is, but reminds us who we are as Christians saved by grace.
One of my favorite verses when I’m feeling condemned and discouraged by my sin says, “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:20).
God isn’t surprised by our sin and he won’t eternally punish or condemn us-Jesus was already punished for our sins-past, present and future. God’s grace expressed through the reading of scripture and help of Christian friends gives us the strength to do what is right, to resist temptation and fight our battle with sin.
Dear Lord, Thank you for your unmeasurable grace that changes us from the inside out. Help me be grace-filled towards others when they sin. Please help me to see my own sin without condemnation, but to quickly confess and receive your forgiveness and grace. In Jesus Name. Amen.